Tag Archives: won

Review of The Scot’s Bride, by Paula Quinn

I won a copy of Paula Quinn‘s The Scot’s Bride through Goodreads. Conveniently, I was also looking to read a book by an author beginning with Q for my alphabet challenge.

Description from Goodreads:
Highlander Patrick MacGregor likes his life just the way it is. Fighting for his coin, enjoying a woman’s charms, and bearing no responsibility at all. Aye, that’s the life for him. That is, until Patrick sees her-a raven-haired beauty with eyes as dark as midnight. Patrick swore never to fall in love. Not even with a lass as wild as he…especially when she’s from a rival clan.

Charlotte Cunningham knows Patrick is trouble the moment she sets eyes on him. Her only goal is to escape the possibility of marriage. Any marriage. But as the summer days turn into sultry nights, enticing her beyond reason, Charlie is forced to choose between the freedom she craves and the reckless rogue she can’t forget.

Note first that this book is apparently part of a large series that I’ve not read. It stood alone just fine, though I could feel some history was there that I was missing. But I don’t think it effected me too much. It seemed to mostly centre around the male MCs family’s sense or honor and therefore I should know what kind of man he really was, even as he acted a rogue.

Note also that this whole Historical Romance, Historical Highlander Romance (which seems to be its own subcategory) is new to me and one I avoided for a long time because I’d never read anything in it I liked.

Not also that I recently read The Scot Beds His Wife, by Kerrigan Byrne and didn’t hate it. I had a few quibbles. It contained some of the things I dislike about the genre, like men who kiss women even when they’re being told not to and women who then melt for them. But it also had a lot I liked. I decided I had judged the genre too harshly. So, I thought I’d give this one a try.

Note lastly that I was wrong. This book has all the things I dislike about the genre squashed into its pages. I cannot tell you how many times I made gagging noised while reading this book. I cannot tell you how incensed I was that Patrick pursued Charlie even as she adamantly told him not to. I cannot tell you how angry I was that he kissed her when she told him she didn’t want him to and how much I disliked that she then, of course, groaned for it. I cannot tell you how sick I was of reading how physically perfect both characters were. I cannot tell you how little respect I had for a woman who recognized a rogue and all his tricks and still fell for him. I cannot express how annoying the artificial and excess drama was. Why do we need bandits and people randomly trying to steel wives and dead neighbors and returning lost loves?

Outside all of that, I found a lot of the language too flowery and occasionally anachronistic, the writing painfully repetitive and the book just too long. I suspect that I was never going to like this book. If I’m going to enjoy this genre, I’ll have to find a way to tell the difference between this sort of book and ones with a bit more substance, a few less winking rapscallion heroes, and heroines that are strong and independent in ways beyond being mouthy. I tried. Now I know better.

Review of Curva Peligrosa, by Lily Iona MacKenzie

I won a copy of Lily Iona Mackenzie‘s Curva Peligrosa through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
When Curva Peligrosa arrives in Weed, Alberta, after a twenty-year trek on the Old North Trail from southern Mexico, she stops its residents in their tracks. With a parrot on each shoulder, a glittering gold tooth, and a wicked trigger finger, she is unlike anything they have ever seen before. Curva is ready to settle down, but are the inhabitants of Weed ready for her? Possessed of an insatiable appetite for life and love, Curva’s infectious energy galvanizes the townspeople, turning their staid world upside down with her exotic elixirs and unbridled ways. Toss in an unscrupulous americano developer and a one-eyed Blackfoot chief, stir them all together in the tumult of a tempestuous tornado, and the town of Weed will never be the same again. A lyrical account of one woman’s journey and the unexpected effects it has on the people around her, Curva Peligrosa pulses with the magic at the heart and soul of life.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with this book. The writing is good. The editing fine. (I found a few hiccups, but I think I have an early copy.) It didn’t really win me over though. I’m generally a book-a-day reader and it took me four days short of a month to finish this book. That’s an eternity in my reading world.

It’s one of those books that’s supposed to be imbued with meaning. You’re supposed to read it in your book group and natter on about how important and inspiring it is in its abstractness. You’re supposed to see Curva, in all her uneducated, back-to-earth greatness as holding some secrets that we could all do with learning.

I however, thought it was too random and lacking focus. I dislike aggrandization, especially purposeful self-aggrandizing. It’s pretentious, and that’s how this book felt to me. I very much think this book will be a total winner for some people and total flop for others. I wouldn’t expect too many middle of the road readers.

Review of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

I won a copy of Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give through Audiobook Access.

Description from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

OMG, so good. This book destroyed me, but I loved it. Outside of just being a great book, it was also meaningful for me personally. I had several startling experiences while reading it. The first being that I live in Saint Louis, MO, home of Michael Brown and Lamar Smith and the protests around their deaths and the acquittals of the officers who killed them. The events of this book could easily have happened here.

I wanted to read this book from the moment I saw it, but put it off (even after I won an audio version of it) because I didn’t know if I could handle it while my city and on occasion I am currently protesting yet another failure of the justice system. I don’t make it to as many actions as I’d like, but the book still seemed like it could be too close, too real.

Even once I started it, I listened to the first chapter and it took me a full week to come back and face chapter two, where I knew Khalil would die. Then, once I did, I listened in the car. Not three minutes after I managed avoid bawling my eyes out at the scene where a traffic stop about a tail light (if it was even out) turned deadly. I was sitting at a stoplight and a police officer pulled up beside me and motioned for me to roll my window down. I did. He asked, “Did you know only your top break light is working?” “No,” I said, “I’ll have that looked at. Thanks.” He nodded and drove away. The timing shook me, life mimicking art but with one GIANT difference that was impossible to miss. This book is fiction, but there are so many Khalils and I—a white women in a Subaru—didn’t even merit an officer getting out of his car! He was terse, but otherwise polite.

But those things are about me and my circumstances with the book, not the book. The book is amazing, ya’ll. It takes a community that is too often dehumanized and reduced to “thug” or “gang banger” and makes them real people.

This book is the direct opposite of another I read recently in which the author kept having generic “gang bangers” threaten the heroine. The gang bangers did this. The gang bangers did that. There was nothing human about them, “gang banger” could have been substituted with “the monsters” or “the evil entities.” This, I think, is too often the case. But even people in gangs or that sell drugs are people with families, histories, hopes and desires. They are real people and this book makes you see this in a way I think too many people sadly need to be reminded of. I honestly think this should be required high school reading!

It’s also just marvelously written and has a surprising amount of humor for such a serious topic. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year and certainly the best audio I’ve listened to. Bahni Turpin did an amazing job with the narration. Everyone go read/listen to this and Hollywood better not mess up the movie!

On a side note: Angie Thomas is gonna be speaking in my town next month!